‘App’y travellers

WALKING-569166.jpg

Friends and family not free? A new generation of travellers are using Web forums, apps like Tinder and Wander to connect with like-minded companions for their trips

Remember that one crazy travel plan you really wanted to carry out but none of your friends or family wanted or had the time to? And if you are one of those for whom travel — the same as with drinks is always better with company — you probably ended up relegating it to your already full bucket list at not finding anyone else who’s up for it.

But with forums such as Throntree, Travelbuddies and Meetup.com coming into their own on the Web, a new generation of travellers are finding like-minded companions to travel with, online. Not just forums, even apps like Wander — which was launched in late 2014 — and Tinder, which travelling singles are using to hook up (but in an entirely casual, non-romantic way) are providing avenues for those who don’t want to travel by themselves. With summer being the best time for travelling to various destinations, at home or abroad, this is a good time indeed to find a friend for the road at the click of a button.

Mumbai-based pharma executive Kishan Kotecha is among those who found a travel companion online while on a recent jaunt to Hampi. “The problem with friends often is that their interests do not coincide with yours and even if they do, their schedules may be very different,” points out Kishan. But it did not take time for Kishan to find his way around this problem and he created a forum called Crazy Buddies on Meetup.com. Not only did it help Kishan make Hampi happen with 10 other strangers for company, his forum has in just a few months grown to have more than 1000 members with trips planned every week if not more.

Telling us about his experience of travelling with strangers, Kishan says, “There are so many like-minded people on the Internet. All you need to do is make your travel plans clear and you’ll find people. For me, the greatest perk was that while I had company when I wanted, with strangers, there was no compunction in taking off alone for some part of the itinerary when I felt like it. It provides a perfect mix of freedom and company, and for me that’s the best prospect when I think of travelling.”

While for some, finding a travel companion via an app or site just a back-up option when friends or family are unavailable, for 25-year-old travel junkie Krunal Patel, there is no better way to move around — while making new friends. Krunal says, “All my trips have been with strangers. I am part of a forum known as India Youth and we organise and go on trips to almost everywhere and it is through these trips that I have made many of my friends. Seeking travel partners has become very easy thanks to forums and apps dedicated to the purpose.” Krunal, who is also a part of the popular TravelBuddies forum, feels that the notion of travelling with strangers has always been one of the most interesting aspects of travel.

While it has its perks, travelling with complete strangers can also have a few problem areas, especially in the case of longer trips. This is where forums like Johann Sen’s Wanderers come in. Says Johann, “Our last major trip was to Nepal and it was just before the tragedy happened. Obviously when you consider a trip like that, there are a lot of things to take into account and travelling with complete strangers is not advisable. So what we do in our forum, is we start by familiarising the group, once it has been finalised, through meet-ups. We usually start a good 25 days before the trip and through coffee sessions, make sure we get to know each other before we start. Through this, not only are we making sure that there wouldn’t be unwanted problems on the trip we also end up making long-lasting friends. We follow up with our travel companions after the trips as well and make sure we stay in touch with them.” Johann says their next trip will be to Cambodia.

Johann’s partner in Wanderers, Daniel, adds that you can meet up with like-minded companions even for trips like one to the Everest base camp. “Oftentimes people get scared that it might not work out. But in my experience with many years in outdoor travel I have realised that it does work out. This notion has a certain spice and a colour to it.” Daniel also says, “(When) everything is well planned, you have access to experienced people who know how to make your trip satisfying as different people have different expectations. We are very selective about who we take in and in that way we make sure that we will have like-minded people to gel with on the trip.”

HTML tutorial

‘App’y travellers

WALKING-569166.jpg

Friends and family not free? A new generation of travellers are using Web forums, apps like Tinder and Wander to connect with like-minded companions for their trips

Remember that one crazy travel plan you really wanted to carry out but none of your friends or family wanted or had the time to? And if you are one of those for whom travel — the same as with drinks is always better with company — you probably ended up relegating it to your already full bucket list at not finding anyone else who’s up for it.

But with forums such as Throntree, Travelbuddies and Meetup.com coming into their own on the Web, a new generation of travellers are finding like-minded companions to travel with, online. Not just forums, even apps like Wander — which was launched in late 2014 — and Tinder, which travelling singles are using to hook up (but in an entirely casual, non-romantic way) are providing avenues for those who don’t want to travel by themselves. With summer being the best time for travelling to various destinations, at home or abroad, this is a good time indeed to find a friend for the road at the click of a button.

Mumbai-based pharma executive Kishan Kotecha is among those who found a travel companion online while on a recent jaunt to Hampi. “The problem with friends often is that their interests do not coincide with yours and even if they do, their schedules may be very different,” points out Kishan. But it did not take time for Kishan to find his way around this problem and he created a forum called Crazy Buddies on Meetup.com. Not only did it help Kishan make Hampi happen with 10 other strangers for company, his forum has in just a few months grown to have more than 1000 members with trips planned every week if not more.

Telling us about his experience of travelling with strangers, Kishan says, “There are so many like-minded people on the Internet. All you need to do is make your travel plans clear and you’ll find people. For me, the greatest perk was that while I had company when I wanted, with strangers, there was no compunction in taking off alone for some part of the itinerary when I felt like it. It provides a perfect mix of freedom and company, and for me that’s the best prospect when I think of travelling.”

While for some, finding a travel companion via an app or site just a back-up option when friends or family are unavailable, for 25-year-old travel junkie Krunal Patel, there is no better way to move around — while making new friends. Krunal says, “All my trips have been with strangers. I am part of a forum known as India Youth and we organise and go on trips to almost everywhere and it is through these trips that I have made many of my friends. Seeking travel partners has become very easy thanks to forums and apps dedicated to the purpose.” Krunal, who is also a part of the popular TravelBuddies forum, feels that the notion of travelling with strangers has always been one of the most interesting aspects of travel.

While it has its perks, travelling with complete strangers can also have a few problem areas, especially in the case of longer trips. This is where forums like Johann Sen’s Wanderers come in. Says Johann, “Our last major trip was to Nepal and it was just before the tragedy happened. Obviously when you consider a trip like that, there are a lot of things to take into account and travelling with complete strangers is not advisable. So what we do in our forum, is we start by familiarising the group, once it has been finalised, through meet-ups. We usually start a good 25 days before the trip and through coffee sessions, make sure we get to know each other before we start. Through this, not only are we making sure that there wouldn’t be unwanted problems on the trip we also end up making long-lasting friends. We follow up with our travel companions after the trips as well and make sure we stay in touch with them.” Johann says their next trip will be to Cambodia.

Johann’s partner in Wanderers, Daniel, adds that you can meet up with like-minded companions even for trips like one to the Everest base camp. “Oftentimes people get scared that it might not work out. But in my experience with many years in outdoor travel I have realised that it does work out. This notion has a certain spice and a colour to it.” Daniel also says, “(When) everything is well planned, you have access to experienced people who know how to make your trip satisfying as different people have different expectations. We are very selective about who we take in and in that way we make sure that we will have like-minded people to gel with on the trip.”

HTML tutorial

A haven of tranquility

03SILVERCASCADEFALLS,KODAIKANAL.jpg

Lush green pastures, breathtaking landscapes and peaceful hills make kodaikanal a serene summer getaway


For a country where travel usually referred to the wall-frame friendly Agra visit with family or even the age old secret trip to Goa with friends, we have come a long way. Nurturing this newfound aspiration to discover as much the place as oneself, today’s 20-something battalion has embraced backpacking. One such visit of mine was to Kodaikanal — a brief tour that had me desperate to soak up all I could. Packing more anxiety than clothes into a basic bag, I was very ready for my solo summer date.

Surging under the sleepy sun from Chennai airport to Kodi, (that’s what the locals call it) I had no idea that the quarter day drive would melt from oversized concrete roads into uphill rides, from masala dosa with filter coffee to praising the rain gods with farmers in lush fields. Upon reaching my place of stay that equalled one of those old school wooden palaces from paintings, I moonwalked my way into the kitchen stocked with teas, fruits and home-made everything. It was both fascinating and inspiring, how organic a life people there lead. Smoothly, the next few days involved me falling in love with life at large. That’s what Kodaikanal does to you!

It was a bustling Sunday market early in the morning, where I did some very touristy things like taking one too many selfies, buying all-natural lotions, potions and firmly stitching myself on to a seat at Pot Luck café. Combating the rich coldness of Kodi’s canny winter with a steaming cup of cinnamon scented hot chocolate, I almost thought I was immortal. One distinct treasure of a memory was when in the nights, the electricity would fluctuate, dragging a thick rug into the veranda and lying in silence, counting stars that shyly spread across the night sky like children on a playground. I did have terrific company.

All my senses in harmony, no traffic jams, no deadlines to submit reports by, no constant honking of cars, no parties I had to struggle and squeeze into heels for, no need of air conditioners or fans, no interest in boosting my ego, no desire for television or music. It was a time that defied the need for validation. A time when I didn’t equate Wi-Fi to oxygen. And honestly, if that isn’t heaven, I have no clue what is!

There must be something more precious than time, that one cannot bring back. Innocence, I fathom. Exactly what Kodaikanal held. And it pains me to figure who to credit that to — the humble residents or the breathtaking views that seem to seep into and stay under your skin. Leaving from there felt close to a heartbreak. I may be dramatic, yes, but this certainly deserves it. Riding on a jeep with a local politician’s party jingle as the background score and an unintended smile on my face, I departed from Kodaikanal, equal parts calm and curious.

Sobhita Dhulipala is Miss India Earth, 2013, and a backpacker

HTML tutorial

A haven of tranquility

03SILVERCASCADEFALLS,KODAIKANAL.jpg

Lush green pastures, breathtaking landscapes and peaceful hills make kodaikanal a serene summer getaway


For a country where travel usually referred to the wall-frame friendly Agra visit with family or even the age old secret trip to Goa with friends, we have come a long way. Nurturing this newfound aspiration to discover as much the place as oneself, today’s 20-something battalion has embraced backpacking. One such visit of mine was to Kodaikanal — a brief tour that had me desperate to soak up all I could. Packing more anxiety than clothes into a basic bag, I was very ready for my solo summer date.

Surging under the sleepy sun from Chennai airport to Kodi, (that’s what the locals call it) I had no idea that the quarter day drive would melt from oversized concrete roads into uphill rides, from masala dosa with filter coffee to praising the rain gods with farmers in lush fields. Upon reaching my place of stay that equalled one of those old school wooden palaces from paintings, I moonwalked my way into the kitchen stocked with teas, fruits and home-made everything. It was both fascinating and inspiring, how organic a life people there lead. Smoothly, the next few days involved me falling in love with life at large. That’s what Kodaikanal does to you!

It was a bustling Sunday market early in the morning, where I did some very touristy things like taking one too many selfies, buying all-natural lotions, potions and firmly stitching myself on to a seat at Pot Luck café. Combating the rich coldness of Kodi’s canny winter with a steaming cup of cinnamon scented hot chocolate, I almost thought I was immortal. One distinct treasure of a memory was when in the nights, the electricity would fluctuate, dragging a thick rug into the veranda and lying in silence, counting stars that shyly spread across the night sky like children on a playground. I did have terrific company.

All my senses in harmony, no traffic jams, no deadlines to submit reports by, no constant honking of cars, no parties I had to struggle and squeeze into heels for, no need of air conditioners or fans, no interest in boosting my ego, no desire for television or music. It was a time that defied the need for validation. A time when I didn’t equate Wi-Fi to oxygen. And honestly, if that isn’t heaven, I have no clue what is!

There must be something more precious than time, that one cannot bring back. Innocence, I fathom. Exactly what Kodaikanal held. And it pains me to figure who to credit that to — the humble residents or the breathtaking views that seem to seep into and stay under your skin. Leaving from there felt close to a heartbreak. I may be dramatic, yes, but this certainly deserves it. Riding on a jeep with a local politician’s party jingle as the background score and an unintended smile on my face, I departed from Kodaikanal, equal parts calm and curious.

Sobhita Dhulipala is Miss India Earth, 2013, and a backpacker

HTML tutorial

A hideout by the backwaters

One of the cottages at Surya Samudra (Photo: Julie Sam)

One of the cottages at Surya Samudra (Photo: Julie Sam)

If you like the sound of waves crashing onto the shore through the night, this getaway will be a memorable experience

One can only hear the sound of waves crashing against the shore with the enthusiasm of a child, the birds chirping a song while the sun turns into a flame-orange by evening. This is a usual sight when you are lounging in one of the cottages at Surya Samudra in Kovalam, Kerala. For someone who belongs to Kerala, but never really witnessed it from a traveller’s eyes, the trip gave a quick glance into what I have been missing by living in a metro.

Tucked in the narrow alleys in Trivandrum, Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra presents itself as a warm, comfortable space for those looking to unwind. The retreat is among the latest addition to the Relais & Châteaux family, a chain of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants across 60 countries.

The stay

The retreat houses 31 cottages: each replete with the tharavad style-terracotta roofs, wooden-tiled floors and traditional Kerala doors. The property stretches across the cliff, and faces the Arabian Sea. Rejeesh K, head of operations for Niraamaya Retreats in Kovalam, says that the cottages are constructed in a way that each cottage gets a view of the beach. Each cottage has a glass-walled bathroom, and if you are lucky, even a bathtub. If you are someone who prefers lounging around in the hotel room, the guys at Surya Samudra have got you covered. The folks have thoughtfully made space for a verandah with plantation chairs and a table for the times you may just want tosit and stare at the sea.

The food

When it comes to food, there are plenty of options to choose from, and chef Prakash is only happy to regale your taste buds. Our day started at Café Samsara — the all-day dining restaurant that serves global, Kerala, Pan Indian and custom-made fares — once again with a view of the ocean. The Kerala thali, served with a bowl of rice, prawns ularthiyathu, squid pepper fry, avial, beetroot thoran, vendakai pachadi, sambar, curd, and ada pradhaman (a jaggery and rice-based kheer). An unforgettable meal by chef Prakash remains the grilled mahi mahi with green peppercorn and garlic crust was cooked to perfection. However, it is the black pepper ice cream that takes the crown. The ice cream, infused with black pepper is subtle and leaves an aftertaste you won’t complain about.

The spa

Kerala is synonymous with Ayurvedic massages and no points for guessing that the retreat too has Ayurvedic massages as one of its attractions. There is a range of treatments on offer, Spice Magic for detox and anti-stress, Niraamaya Sync for the workaholic and of course the traditional ones like pada-abhyangam, a massage where the masseur massages specific points of the body with his/her feet. We opted for the abhyanga snana, a 60-minute that facilitates blood circulation and fights anti-ageing. A word of advice, though, how much pressure you can take, solely depends on you. The massage is intense and involves deep, fluid strokes. Try this only if you are ready for one, or you might end up with sore muscles.

It is important to note that this space is ideal for couples or the solo traveller. If your idea of a vacation is enjoying a quiet evening away from your routine — with the ocean for company — this one is for you.
Write to us at feedback.age@gmail.com

Where to go:

Poovar, a small coastal village in the Trivandrum, is known for its serene backwaters. If you are a bird-watcher, this may interest you.

Fact file:
Kovalam is located 16 km from Thiruvananthapuram city. It is an easy 40-minute drive by road to the retreat.

HTML tutorial

Take the safer route

(Photo: PIXABAY)

(Photo: PIXABAY)

Safe travels are happy travels. Ensure that your trip is a happy one by following a few simple instructions and taking some basic precautions


For most tourists, a safety net during their trip starts and ends with travel insurance. But the recent calamity in Nepal has brought to light the importance of being equipped for a travel nightmare. While one can never predict a lurking catastrophe, one can take sufficient measures to ensure the safest and quickest way out of it. We spoke to a few travel experts and enthusiasts about the checklist that one should strike off for safe sojourns.

Tapas Biala, Founder of My Himalayan Adventure, a Dehradun-based adventure and travel provider says, “If you look at it, no part of the world is safe from disasters or calamities. They all have their own disasters— Uttarkashi belt had the terrible floods in 2013, but it doesn’t mean that it will happen every other day. The earthquake in Nepal happened after 80 years. People don’t go anywhere to experience disasters. They go to experience the unknown—to get out of their comfortable, routine lives. So most importantly, one must be mentally prepared for inconveniences.

For amateurs, it is very important that they take someone experienced along with them. There are institutes such as Nehru Institute Of Mountaineering and Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, which have certified courses. One must follow the guidelines from these institutes. It is also preferable that they come through authorities and reputed trekking companies, since they know a lot better about the local authorities, in case of need.”

Tsering Norboo, trek organiser for Ladakh, Leh and Everest Base Camp asserts the importance of carrying extra ration. Having organised more that 600 treks in the region since 1999, Norboo observes that travellers, in a bid to travel light, often don’t carry enough supplies. “In 2010, when there was a cloudburst in Leh, many tourists were stuck in inaccessible locations for weeks and the biggest problem they faced was inadequate ration. Not just food and water, but also extra pairs or protective garments or oxygen masks. If you are stuck somewhere inaccessible, wait for help and do not attempt traveling on foot unless absolutely necessary (for this again, you need adequate ration to wait) and make sure your equipment is in good order. As for the rest, as long as you choose a good, experienced guide, half the precautions are already taken care of.”

If you are stuck in a disaster away from your country, then the risks are higher of course. Which is why, it is imperative that you keep in mind certain dos and don’ts, points out Dr Abhijeet Jadhav, assistant professor at Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management, TISS. “It’s necessary to have the legal and documental formalities in place while traveling in such areas. It’s always advisable to travel with a group or a legitimate organisation because their prerogatives will be constantly updated. If you are a foreign national, reaching the embassy office immediately is important. Drop a message to your relatives and close ones before the communication barriers seep in. Informing the local police and the district authority is also helpful.”

Adding to that thought is Yogi Shah, Founder of The Villa Escape and The Backpacker Co. “Indian embassy is the best contact. Whenever you are travelling abroad, your mobile phone always sends you the name and number of your embassy. Most mobile operators practise this and do send it out once you land in the international airports. People tend to ignore, delete or overlook this message. Do not do that. Always save the message or note down the address and number of the Indian consulate. The police station, the fire brigade and the hospital are the three main places you should look out for around wherever you are staying, as these three are havens for safety and help and will get you connected with the embassy/family back home.”

Bear in mind

1. Be aware of any travel alerts and warnings for your destination.

2. Keep emergency contact numbers of the destination you are visiting.

3. Pack light, so you can move quickly and have a free hand when you need it.

4. Make two photocopies of all your travel documents in case of emergency or if your documents are lost. Leave one copy with a friend or relative at home. It is always a great idea to let at least one person know exactly where you will be staying and how to contact you in an emergency.

5. Do thorough research before locking down on a destination. Find out about the weather, local transport system, and the people, culture and tourist sites.

6. Always have a plan B. Have alternative routes mapped out in case the original route has been closed.

7. Carry a first aid kit.

8. Move to open grounds. Try and find open spaces to wait out the disaster and gauge the seriousness of the situation.

9. The Ministry of Tourism has five regional offices located at Kolkata (East), Mumbai (West), Delhi (North), Chennai (South) and Guwahati (North East), which can be contacted for assistance.

Tips from Yusuf Poonawala, Head- Bharat Deko, Cox and Kings Ltd. and Rajeev Kale, President & Chief Operating Officer — MICE, Domestic & Sports, Tourism, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

HTML tutorial

A hideout by the backwaters

One of the cottages at Surya Samudra (Photo: Julie Sam)

One of the cottages at Surya Samudra (Photo: Julie Sam)

If you like the sound of waves crashing onto the shore through the night, this getaway will be a memorable experience

One can only hear the sound of waves crashing against the shore with the enthusiasm of a child, the birds chirping a song while the sun turns into a flame-orange by evening. This is a usual sight when you are lounging in one of the cottages at Surya Samudra in Kovalam, Kerala. For someone who belongs to Kerala, but never really witnessed it from a traveller’s eyes, the trip gave a quick glance into what I have been missing by living in a metro.

Tucked in the narrow alleys in Trivandrum, Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra presents itself as a warm, comfortable space for those looking to unwind. The retreat is among the latest addition to the Relais & Châteaux family, a chain of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants across 60 countries.

The stay

The retreat houses 31 cottages: each replete with the tharavad style-terracotta roofs, wooden-tiled floors and traditional Kerala doors. The property stretches across the cliff, and faces the Arabian Sea. Rejeesh K, head of operations for Niraamaya Retreats in Kovalam, says that the cottages are constructed in a way that each cottage gets a view of the beach. Each cottage has a glass-walled bathroom, and if you are lucky, even a bathtub. If you are someone who prefers lounging around in the hotel room, the guys at Surya Samudra have got you covered. The folks have thoughtfully made space for a verandah with plantation chairs and a table for the times you may just want tosit and stare at the sea.

The food

When it comes to food, there are plenty of options to choose from, and chef Prakash is only happy to regale your taste buds. Our day started at Café Samsara — the all-day dining restaurant that serves global, Kerala, Pan Indian and custom-made fares — once again with a view of the ocean. The Kerala thali, served with a bowl of rice, prawns ularthiyathu, squid pepper fry, avial, beetroot thoran, vendakai pachadi, sambar, curd, and ada pradhaman (a jaggery and rice-based kheer). An unforgettable meal by chef Prakash remains the grilled mahi mahi with green peppercorn and garlic crust was cooked to perfection. However, it is the black pepper ice cream that takes the crown. The ice cream, infused with black pepper is subtle and leaves an aftertaste you won’t complain about.

The spa

Kerala is synonymous with Ayurvedic massages and no points for guessing that the retreat too has Ayurvedic massages as one of its attractions. There is a range of treatments on offer, Spice Magic for detox and anti-stress, Niraamaya Sync for the workaholic and of course the traditional ones like pada-abhyangam, a massage where the masseur massages specific points of the body with his/her feet. We opted for the abhyanga snana, a 60-minute that facilitates blood circulation and fights anti-ageing. A word of advice, though, how much pressure you can take, solely depends on you. The massage is intense and involves deep, fluid strokes. Try this only if you are ready for one, or you might end up with sore muscles.

It is important to note that this space is ideal for couples or the solo traveller. If your idea of a vacation is enjoying a quiet evening away from your routine — with the ocean for company — this one is for you.
Write to us at feedback.age@gmail.com

Where to go:

Poovar, a small coastal village in the Trivandrum, is known for its serene backwaters. If you are a bird-watcher, this may interest you.

Fact file:
Kovalam is located 16 km from Thiruvananthapuram city. It is an easy 40-minute drive by road to the retreat.

HTML tutorial

Take the safer route

(Photo: PIXABAY)

(Photo: PIXABAY)

Safe travels are happy travels. Ensure that your trip is a happy one by following a few simple instructions and taking some basic precautions


For most tourists, a safety net during their trip starts and ends with travel insurance. But the recent calamity in Nepal has brought to light the importance of being equipped for a travel nightmare. While one can never predict a lurking catastrophe, one can take sufficient measures to ensure the safest and quickest way out of it. We spoke to a few travel experts and enthusiasts about the checklist that one should strike off for safe sojourns.

Tapas Biala, Founder of My Himalayan Adventure, a Dehradun-based adventure and travel provider says, “If you look at it, no part of the world is safe from disasters or calamities. They all have their own disasters— Uttarkashi belt had the terrible floods in 2013, but it doesn’t mean that it will happen every other day. The earthquake in Nepal happened after 80 years. People don’t go anywhere to experience disasters. They go to experience the unknown—to get out of their comfortable, routine lives. So most importantly, one must be mentally prepared for inconveniences.

For amateurs, it is very important that they take someone experienced along with them. There are institutes such as Nehru Institute Of Mountaineering and Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, which have certified courses. One must follow the guidelines from these institutes. It is also preferable that they come through authorities and reputed trekking companies, since they know a lot better about the local authorities, in case of need.”

Tsering Norboo, trek organiser for Ladakh, Leh and Everest Base Camp asserts the importance of carrying extra ration. Having organised more that 600 treks in the region since 1999, Norboo observes that travellers, in a bid to travel light, often don’t carry enough supplies. “In 2010, when there was a cloudburst in Leh, many tourists were stuck in inaccessible locations for weeks and the biggest problem they faced was inadequate ration. Not just food and water, but also extra pairs or protective garments or oxygen masks. If you are stuck somewhere inaccessible, wait for help and do not attempt traveling on foot unless absolutely necessary (for this again, you need adequate ration to wait) and make sure your equipment is in good order. As for the rest, as long as you choose a good, experienced guide, half the precautions are already taken care of.”

If you are stuck in a disaster away from your country, then the risks are higher of course. Which is why, it is imperative that you keep in mind certain dos and don’ts, points out Dr Abhijeet Jadhav, assistant professor at Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management, TISS. “It’s necessary to have the legal and documental formalities in place while traveling in such areas. It’s always advisable to travel with a group or a legitimate organisation because their prerogatives will be constantly updated. If you are a foreign national, reaching the embassy office immediately is important. Drop a message to your relatives and close ones before the communication barriers seep in. Informing the local police and the district authority is also helpful.”

Adding to that thought is Yogi Shah, Founder of The Villa Escape and The Backpacker Co. “Indian embassy is the best contact. Whenever you are travelling abroad, your mobile phone always sends you the name and number of your embassy. Most mobile operators practise this and do send it out once you land in the international airports. People tend to ignore, delete or overlook this message. Do not do that. Always save the message or note down the address and number of the Indian consulate. The police station, the fire brigade and the hospital are the three main places you should look out for around wherever you are staying, as these three are havens for safety and help and will get you connected with the embassy/family back home.”

Bear in mind

1. Be aware of any travel alerts and warnings for your destination.

2. Keep emergency contact numbers of the destination you are visiting.

3. Pack light, so you can move quickly and have a free hand when you need it.

4. Make two photocopies of all your travel documents in case of emergency or if your documents are lost. Leave one copy with a friend or relative at home. It is always a great idea to let at least one person know exactly where you will be staying and how to contact you in an emergency.

5. Do thorough research before locking down on a destination. Find out about the weather, local transport system, and the people, culture and tourist sites.

6. Always have a plan B. Have alternative routes mapped out in case the original route has been closed.

7. Carry a first aid kit.

8. Move to open grounds. Try and find open spaces to wait out the disaster and gauge the seriousness of the situation.

9. The Ministry of Tourism has five regional offices located at Kolkata (East), Mumbai (West), Delhi (North), Chennai (South) and Guwahati (North East), which can be contacted for assistance.

Tips from Yusuf Poonawala, Head- Bharat Deko, Cox and Kings Ltd. and Rajeev Kale, President & Chief Operating Officer — MICE, Domestic & Sports, Tourism, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

HTML tutorial